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Title: Changes in settlement patterns, population and society in rural Anatolia : a case study of Amasya (1576-1642)
Author: Ozel, Oktay
ISNI:       0000 0004 2696 668X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1993
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This study is intended to serve as a fresh look at one of the significant aspects of Ottoman history through a case study of the North-Central Anatolian district (kaza) of Amasya at the turn of the seventeenth century: the changes in the rural structure of Anatolia during a period of turbulence, generally known as the period of the Celali rebellions. The research is mainly based on quantitative data contained in two existing Ottoman tax registers of different types (one mufassal tahrir defteri and one detailed 'avariz defteri), dating respectively from 1576 and 1642. The study examines the situation in three related aspects, namely settlement patterns, population structure and the composition of society in rural Amasya. Through a comparative analysis of the two tax registers, it underlines the changes observed in these three fields between 1576 and 1642. The first point that emerges from the survey is that the settled rural population in the kaza of Amasya appears to have increased significantly (almost two fold) between the 1520s and 1576, and that there was a great number of landless peasant households in the villages, as well as unmarried males in 1576. Secondly, most of the villages seem to have been situated in the lowland plains at this date. Thirdly, rural society consisted overwhelmingly of peasants working on lands of varying sizes, over which they had the hereditary usufruct rights as tenants. Living usually in the country, a significant number of notables, most of whom had pre-Ottoman connections, and timariots together excercised their rights of taxation over the peasantry. By 1642, it appears that this picture had undergone major changes: both the number of inhabited villages and their tax-paying adult male populations in the kaza dropped drastically (by 38.70 and 78.67 % respectively). While some "new" villages appeared in different localities, the remaining villages had become half-deserted. Most of disappeared/deserted villages seem to have been the smaller ones which had possibly been located in lowlands. The number of recorded bachelors in the remaining villages in 1642 constituted less than 10 per cent of the 1576 figure. There also appeared a significant number of (about 7% of total rural population) migrant groups/individuals (biruniyan or "outsiders") in villages; furthermore, we find similar number of militarymen (askeris) settled in the villages, and engaging in agriculture on their farms (ciftliks). It becomes apparent that many peasants moved to these ciftliks, probably for security reasons, while many others who had previously fled from their lands, returned to find their lands occupied by these askeris. The situation of the revenue-holding notables and timariots of the region, on the other hand, seriously dete riorated during this period. From a detailed survey of the socio-political developments of the period in the region, mainly based on the records of outgoing imperial decrees (miihimmes) and the Sharia Court registers (sicils) of Amasya, it becomes clear that these significant changes in the rural structure and society of the kaza between 1576 and 1642 were primarily the result of an unprecedented level of human-made catastrophes that took place during the large-scale Celali depredation of the period, and that these were accompanied by frequent occurrences of natural disasters. Therefore, the changes in the rural structure and society of the kaza of Amasya that emerge from the comparative analysis of the two tax registers represent firstly, the extent of the ruin of the countryside, and secondly, the extent of the erosion of the tax base of the Ottoman government in the region during this turbulent period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ottoman Empire